FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. ----
Congressman Faleomavaega announced that earlier today the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the Defense Authorization Bill. The legislation contains a provision authored by the Congressman directing the Department of Defense to study the feasibility of again making U.S. nationals eligible for the senior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Program.
"Until 1996, U.S. nationals were eligible to participate in the college-level ROTC scholarship program, and many American Samoans have been commissioned as officers in the U.S. armed forces through this program," said Faleomavaega. "Last year, the Department of the Army issued a legal opinion which effectively made the program off limits to U.S. nationals, solely because they are not U.S. citizens. Since that time, I have been trying to clarify the law so that U.S. nationals are again able to participate in this important program."
"Given our long history with both the Junior and Senior ROTC programs, I believe we can persuade the Department of Defense to support amending the law governing ROTC scholarships to include U.S. nationals," said the Congressman. "With DOD's support, I believe Congress will act promptly to correct this inequity."
The Congressman went on to say, "I also want to use this opportunity to say again how important it is to become a U.S. citizen if you have the opportunity. Absolutely nothing is lost by acquiring citizenship, and increasingly more and more privileges are being accorded only to U.S. citizens."
The Defense Authorization Bill was approved by the House by a vote of 304 to 120; however, the legislation contained a provision prohibiting funding for U.S. troops in Bosnia after June 30, 1998. If this provision were to remain in the legislation when it is sent to President Clinton, he is expected to veto the bill. The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the legislation later this summer.